Stick Fighting Techniques

stick fighting DVDStick fighting is a form of combat where practitioners use hand held wooden sticks (often called kali or escrima sticks) to fight each other. Stick fighting is actually a nonspecific term referring to the various weapon based martial arts styles that use stick combat in their systems.

Believe it or not but there are many different martial arts that practice various forms of stick fighting. For example, "intonga" is an ancient stick combat martial art practiced in South Africa. There is also the French stick fighting martial art called "Canne de combat" as well as many others. However, the most popular stick fighting arts can be found in the Filipino Martial Arts systems (or FMA). They include:

  • Kali
  • Arnis
  • Modern Arnis
  • Escrima

Stick Fighting Self Defense

Fighting with sticks might seem like a primitive and ancient form of combat but it actually has a lot of importance for modern reality based self defense. Actually, stick combat offers numerous benefits for the practitioner and it's an essential component of my Contemporary Fighting Arts self defense system.

Benefits of Training

As I stated previously, stick fighting skills are important for modern day self defense applications for the following two reasons.

  • Using a Stick to Protect Yourself - When used correctly, a forceful stick strike can be a very effective self defense weapon. Generally, stick strikes can cause severe blunt-force trauma injuries. Sticks are also ubiquitous and can be readily employed in many self defense situations. Fighting with sticks will give you the skills necessary to use the weapon effectively and efficiently under a variety of combat situations.
  • Defending Against a Stick Attack - There is always the possibility that you can be attacked by a stick wielding criminal. Stick combat actually teaches you about the weapon’s strengths, weaknesses and limitations. This information is vital if you are going to effectively defend against the weapon or perform a stick disarming technique.

Sparring with Sticks

kali sticks are used for stick fighting practiceOne of the best ways to sharpen and improve your stick fighting skills and techniques is through regular sparring exercises also called "stick sparring." To accomplish this you will need a skilled and trustworthy training partner, lightweight rattan sticks and lots of protective gear. You will also need a room that will allow the both of you to move around freely without running into windows, doors or other objects.

The Kali Stick

As I mentioned earlier, you will need a good pair of rattan sticks (also called kali sticks) to spar with your training partner. This weapon is approximately 26 inches in length and is relatively slender. It is hard, yet lightweight, durable and inexpensive.

Most importantly, the rattan stick is also safer than wood because it does not splinter on impact. It simply frays and shreds apart. This is especially important when performing full contact stick combat techniques with your training partner. Kali sticks allow the fighters to engage in full contact training, however protective gear (i.e., fencing masks, hand protection, arm and elbow pads, throat and chest protectors, groin cup, etc) must be worn at all times.

Holding a Stick

There is a right way and wrong way to hold a kali stick when stick sparring. Knowing the difference can save your life! When holding your rattan stick, always allow enough room (approximately one fist length) on the bottom portion of your weapon. First, when you hold your kali stick in this fashion, it actually converts one stick into two weapons useful weapons. The end portion can now be used for butting techniques at close quarter combat range. Second, it provides greater leverage which improves your impact power. Third, it significantly enhances your weapon retention when fighting.

A moderate amount of pressure should be applied when gripping your rattan stick. Grasping your kali stick too tightly when fighting can be problematic because it will tire your hands and cause unnecessary cramping. Your stick strikes will also be telegraphed and the speed and power of your strikes will be significantly reduced.

"There is a right way and wrong way to hold a kali stick when fighting. Knowing the difference can save your life!"

Fighting Ranges

There are three separate distances of stick combat that must be completely mastered. They include:

  • Long Range Stick Combat - this is the furthest distance of stick fighting where you can only strike your assailant's hand with your rattan stick.
  • Mid Range Stick Combat - this is the intermediate stick fighting range where you can strike your assailant's head, arms and body with your stick.
  • Close Quarter Stick Combat - this is the third and final distance of stick fighting where you can strike your assailant with the butt of your weapon and you can employ a variety of elbow, knee and head butt strikes. 

    Stick Fighting Techniques

    What follows is a list of stick fighting techniques from my book, 1001 street fighting secrets. It is my hope that you can employ these techniques to improve your odds of winning a fight. When you are done reading these guidelines, you might want to also look at my street stick fighting DVD.

    KEEP YOUR STICK MOVING
    When fighting with sticks, always keep your stick moving. This is important for the following reasons:

    • It prevents inertia from setting in during combat.
    • It enhances the overall velocity of your strikes.
    • It minimizes weapon telegraphing, especially prior to striking with your stick.
    • It enhances your defensive reaction time.
    • It minimizes your hand and digit exposure when fighting.
    • It significantly enhances the offensive flow
    • It makes your assailant misjudge the range of your stick.

    STICK FIGHT FROM DIFFERENT POSITIONS 
    There are nine general stick combat positions that you and your adversary can engage. They include the following:

    • Both you and your assailant are in the prone position.
    • You are kneeling and your assailant is prone position.
    • Your assailant is kneeling and you are prone position.
    • Both you and your assailant are kneeling.
    • You are standing and your assailant is prone.
    • Your assailant is standing and you are prone.
    • You are standing and your assailant is kneeling.
    • Your assailant is standing and you are kneeling.
    • Both you and your assailant are standing.

    USE DIFFERENT TYPES OF FIGHTING STICKS
    If you want to improve your overall stick combat skills, its important to have your and your training partner practice with a wide range of sticks.  If your finances permit you, workout with: long sticks, short sticks, light sticks, heavy sticks, balanced sticks, unbalanced sticks,cumbersome sticks, makeshift sticks, wooden sticks, and metal sticks.

    KNOW YOUR FOUR DEFENSIVE OPTIONS
    During a stick fight, you only have four possible defensive options. Make certain you can execute all four of these responses with ease and efficiency when fighting with rattan sticks.

    • Evasion - you can move out of the angle of the stick attack.
    • Deflection - you can deflect the stick attack.
    • Block - you can block the oncoming stick attack.
    • Striking - you can strike the opponent's weapon hand with your own stick.

    PRACTICE  BOTH SINGLE AND DOUBLE STICK DRILLS 
    The only real way to improve your stick combat skills is to regularly engage in a variety of different drills. These exercises can be performed with either one or two rattan sticks at the same time. That's right! Two sticks at the same time (also know as double stick training).

    Now, I'm the first to state it's highly unlikely that you will be faced with a situation where you will fight a criminal adversary with two sticks in your hands. Perhaps in a Rambo movie but not in a real world self defense situation. So why is it important to practice fighting with two sticks (also called double stick training) at the same time? Well, the following list will show you just how beneficial it can be for the aspiring martial artists and self defense technician.

    • Improve your overall self confidence.
      Improve your mental and physical speed.
    • Increase the power of your arm blows.
    • Minimize overall telegraphic movements in your body mechanics.
    • Improves your eye-hand coordination.
    • Improve your ability to adapt to weapon attacks from unpredictable angles.
    • Refine and enhance your ability to move in combat.
    • Develops and sharpens your sense of timing.
    • Teach you range specificity.
    • Reinforces your sense of target recognition.
    • For more information about using stick fighting drills to improve your overall fighting performance, see my street stick fighting DVD.

    PRACTICE STICK FIGHTING EVERYWHERE
    Practice stick combat in a variety of different environments, terrains, locations and positions.  Some challenging locations include: doorways, hallways, on the stairs, ascending a hill, descending a hill, on top of a car, in a ditch, on a bridge, under a bridge, standing in the water, in the snow, in the mud, in the sand, in tall grass, in between shrubbery, between tress and branches, in the kneeling position, and in the prone position. Be careful when stick sparring in unstable terrains and environments. Make certain you are being supervised by a qualified stick fighting instructor.

    DON'T THRUST YOUR KALI STICK
    Avoid performing thrusting motions when stick fighting. Thrusting your kali stick can be risky for the following reasons:

    • When the tip of your stick makes contact with a hard body target, it will put tremendous strain on your wrists which can lead to a severe sprain or possible break.
    • You can lose your kali stick when impacting with a strong surface area.
    • Stick thrusting motions simply lack neutralizing power.
    • Thrusting motions with a rattan stick should be used sparingly and only under certain combative circumstances.  Generally,  thrusting motions should be used when knife fighting.

    Good luck in your training!

    sammy franco picture
    Sammy Franco
    Founder & President
    Contemporary Fighting Arts



    Warning!Articles are property of Sammy Franco and Contemporary Fighting Arts, LLC. Reprint or distribution is strictly prohibited. Sammy Franco will aggressively prosecute those found publishing Contemporary Fighting Arts materials on the Internet without written permission. Copyright 1998-2014, Contemporary Fighting Arts. All rights reserved.